“Eljah came near to all the people and said, ‘How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, follow him.’ But the people did not answer him a word.” 1st Kings 18:21

Esteemed author Henry Blackaby defines an idol as, “Any person(s), thing or way that substitutes for God in a life.” Sadly, idolatry is alive and well in America, even among those who would describe themselves as Christians! Therefore, it is of utmost importance that we heed the counsel of Elijah and the Scriptures!

We need to repair the altar of the Lord (v 30). The prophet first restored its anchor using twelve stones, the number denoting the number of the sons of Jacob before his name was changed by the Lord to Israel, which means ‘ruling with God’ (v 31). He then rebuilt the structure (v 32) in the name of the Lord! It is noteworthy that before any vessels were placed in the tabernacle (or later in the Temple), they were anointed with oil beforehand, setting them apart for the Lord’s exclusive use! Paul, later in New Testament times wrote to the church in Corinth to remind them, ‘You are not your own. You have been bought with a price: therefore, glorify God.” The altar of the Lord is no longer a physical structure, but a spiritual one in the heart!

Secondly, we need to restore our allegiance to Him (vv 33-35). Our allegiance and devotion to the Lord is not complete (meaningful) until all of self is on the altar. We need to always keep in mind that full allegiance means full surrender. Both the wood for the fire and the meat for the fragrance must be offered! Remember, it is always easier to put one’s sins on the altar than it is to put oneself there! In the Old Testament book of Malachi the people of Israel were charged with robbing God! Yet, they were already giving 10% of their income. The fact is they were sacrificing their diseased and crippled livestock; their blighted and infested crops! This in no way describes devotion/allegiance to the Lord.

Finally, we need to demonstrate respect for the Lord’s authority (v 36). This is the point Elijah is seen to be an implementer, not an innovator. He was telling the people what the Lord told him to tell! He was doing what the Lord told him to do! In this way only is the true God revealed (vv 37-39). In addition this is when any false gods are rejected (v 40). Gladys Aylward was a missionary to China during World War II. She was charged with the protection and care of 100 Chinese orphans. Word was received that the Japanese army was approaching, and they were killing all Christian missionaries and Chinese converts. The only escape was hundreds of miles away across the mountains. As Ms. Aylward said to one of the orphans, “I am not Moses!” One of the children replied, “But God is still God!” When we depend wholly on God, He shows Himself to be dependable!

As the foundations of America seem to disintegrate, and the influence of the Church continues to decline, are we failing to learn from our spiritual forefathers? Have we substituted any person(s), thing or way for God in our life? If so, may God grant us the humility and honesty to confess it the Lord and accept His forgiveness and restoration!

Jon Moore